Key Findings from Texas Exit Polls

Key findings from a poll of voters in the Texas general election:
McCAIN'S STRENGTHS: Whites, Republicans, seniors, evangelical Christians and the affluent flocked to the Republican presidential nominee, and Sen. John McCain also appeared to carry the independent vote. McCain won about two-thirds of the white vote, and nearly three-fifths of those whose families earn more than $50,000 a year. More than one-third of Texans polled approved of President Bush's performance -- higher than the national average -- and they backed McCain better than 10-to-1.
McCAIN'S WEAKNESSES: McCain lagged Bush's performance in 2004 on several fronts -- even when he won groups of voters, he often did so by smaller margins. McCain was unable to duplicate Bush's support among Hispanics and young voters. Among those who disapproved of Bush's performance as president, three-fourths voted against McCain.
OBAMA'S STRENGTHS: Black voters were stunningly united in their support for Sen. Barack Obama, bidding to become the nation's first black president -- perhaps only 1 percent of blacks supported McCain. Hispanics, who constituted a bigger bloc of the Texas electorate, favored Obama about 2-to-1 -- in the 2004 presidential election, they split nearly down the middle. Three-fifths of voters under 30 liked Obama. Liberals, moderates, Democrats and voters from families earning less than $50,000 a year backed him too. Just as importantly, he narrowed the gap among many GOP-leaning voter blocs.
OBAMA'S WEAKNESSES: Democratic presidential candidates continued to struggle appealing to whites in Texas -- about one-third backed Obama. Still, that was slightly better than John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000. Obama also lost voters over 65 nearly 2-to-1 -- one of the few groups in which Obama fared worse than Kerry did four years ago.
SENATE RACE: Like McCain, Republican incumbent John Cornyn ran well among whites, Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals and Bush supporters. Democrat Rick Noriega ran strongly among blacks, Hispanics and those who named health care as the nation's most pressing issue. But contrasts in the Senate race weren't as sharp as in the presidential contest.
BIGGEST ISSUE: More than half of Texans surveyed on Election Day named the economy as the most important issue facing the country, and those voters narrowly favored Obama for president and split evenly in the Senate race. McCain overwhelmingly won those who named terrorism, but voters said health care, the war in Iraq, and energy policy were more important than terrorism.
FEAR ABOUT THE ECONOMY: Four-fifths of voters said they were worried about the direction of the economy next year -- about half said they were very worried.

Exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International among 2,101 Texas voters, most of them as they left precincts Tuesday but including 591 absentee or early voters interviewed by telephone during the past week. The early voters' responses were weighted to represent 55 percent of the total sample -- their estimated proportion of the state's electorate. Margin of sampling error plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample, larger for subgroups.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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